Best scandal, surf spot, place to eavesdrop and more.
Best clubs, bartenders, local artist, band and more.
Best restaurants by city, cheap eats and best restaurant of the county!
Best coffee shop, best bakery and more.
Best places to shop, best plumber and more.
Our picks for the sometimes less obvious winners.
Best Beach / Best Place to Watch the Sunset / Best Place to Walk the Dog (2012)
Ocean and Scenic, Carmel
When Spanish explorer Sebastián Vizcaíno landed at Carmel Beach in 1602 and planted a cross to mark his arrival, he became the first tourist to cast a Best Of vote in what was to become Monterey County. Over the next 400-odd years, every subsequent generation of local beachgoer has echoed his sentiment—you can’t find better. With a panoramic view, translucent waters that inspired Robert Louis Stevenson, and a dramatic backdrop of wind-sculpted Cypress, Carmel Beach remains a little slice of heaven. It’s also voted the best place to watch the sun go down since Carmel points directly west, you have the smooth white sands to bury your bare feet into and a variety of excellent natural shelters if the wind is up—plus, after you have enjoyed the last rays of the day and sat amid what poet Robinson Jeffers called, “the extraordinary patience of things,” you can wander back up into Carmel for dinner, drinks or coffee. Finally, it’s no secret that Carmel Beach is dog nirvana. Free of their leashes (if they are “under voice command from their owners”), area dogs bound and splash and sprint up and down the beach with wild, unbridled joy.